Harold Ho has been with Royal Scenic for 15 years, where he currently holds the position of vice president, sales, marketing, and supplier relations.
After graduating, he worked his way up in the hospitality sector, working for various properties throughout the years.
This week, PAX checks in with Harold to learn more about the souvenir he's contemplating selling on Kijiji, the lie that cast him and his wife to eternal punishment in the eyes of the Catholic church, and why his kids have nicknamed him "pro skills tourist".
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Harold Ho (HH): A pair of good noise cancelling headphones, ear plugs and eye mask, and a comfortable travel pillow with good neck support.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
HH: Any country that has a rich history and culture. There is a common acronym in our business, ABC or ABT (another bloody church/ castle or temple). For me, I actually enjoyed visiting the sites. I research and learn about the stories beforehand, and then get to experience by seeing, touching, and feeling.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
HH: Airports are usually places one tries to get in and out as fast as possible. At the Singapore Changi there is so much to do and see. It is the only airport that I wish I had allowed myself more time to explore before my flight. It should be considered a destination/attraction in itself!
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
HH: Meeting and interacting with industry professionals with diverse backgrounds. A key component of my job is to manage the partnership and contracts we have with many international airlines and tourism suppliers from all over the world. I learn and become familiar with how they conduct business and the best way to achieve mutual cooperation and benefits. Some of them returned to their head offices in home countries and we still keep in touch as friends. It’s always helpful to know someone locally if or when I get to travel overseas.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
HH: My dad used to work in Kuala Lumpur when I was a kid. On school holidays, my family would spend time in Malaysia which was very different from the hustle and bustle in Hong Kong where I was originally from.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
HH: It was a Rolex I bought from a Caribbean cruise. I probably wore it less than a dozen times and it’s just been locked up in my safe deposit box. I stopped wearing watches since I started using an iPhone. I will probably sell it on Kijiji soon.
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
HH: I am very adventurous and like to try out all kinds of cuisine from street foods to gourmet dinners. The most memorable meal is the tasting menu at Core in London. The executive chef is Clare Smyth who used to be a protege of Gordon Ramsey. Everything from the decor to food quality and presentation comes with such understated elegance and I felt the warmth and thoughts shining through.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
HH: Many modern hotels or airport still do not have facilities for guests and passengers to charge devices. At airports lounges and check in areas we are sometimes forced to use wall outlets and sit nearby (even on the floor) to guard our phones while being charged. Some hotels, even first class properties, are still not equipped with convenient electrical outlets. Many times I've still needed to move furniture out of the way to locate wall outlets, or even use the one in the washroom to charge my devices.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
HH: It’s not really a hidden talent but I take a lot of selfies on trips and I am quite good at it (without the use of an annoying selfie stick). My hands are steady and I am quick at snapping the moment. So much so my kids give me a nick name “pro-skills tourist”.
PAX: Checked bag or carry-on?
HH: Carry on so I can move fast and navigate through the airport to wherever I need to go next.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
HH: You can probably tell it is shade down from my choice of essential travel items. I take any amount of sleeping or napping I can get, anytime anywhere.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
HH: My wife and I were desperate on our first trip to Rome. We pretended to be honeymooners and lied to the Swiss guards to get Papal Audience tickets with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. As devoted Catholics it was still worthwhile even though we were since condemned to eternal punishment.
PAX: What are 1-2 things travel agents should be aware of right now in regards to Royal Scenic?
HH: Royal Scenic, in addition to our Asia beginnings and expertise, also offerS worldwide air and tour products. Our robust online booking engine is constantly being enhanced and is run by our in-house technology team. We welcome any retail travel professional to do business with us as their one stop shop wholesale partner.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!